The secret in having a good roast turkey is to baste it often, and to cook it long enough. A small turkey of seven or eight pounds (the best selection if fat) should be roasted or baked three hours at least. A very large turkey should not be cooked a minute less than four hours; an extra hour is preferable to a minute less. If properly basted, they will not become dry.
With much experience in hotel life, where turkeys are ruined by the wholesale, I have never seen a piece of turkey that was fit to eat. Besides being tasteless, they are almost invariably undercooked. First, then, after the turkey is dressed, season it well, sprinkling pepper and salt on the inside; stuff it, and tie it well in shape; either lard the top or lay slices of bacon over it; wet the skin, and sprinkle it well with pepper, salt, and flour. It is well to allow a turkey to remain some time stuffed before cook-ing. Pour a little boiling water into the bottom of the dripping-pan. If it is to be roasted, do not put it too near the coals at first, until it gets well heated through; then gradually draw it nearer. The excellence of the turkey depends much upon the frequency of basting it; occasionally baste it with a little butter, oftener with its own drippings. Just before taking it from the fire or out of the oven, put on more melted butter, and sprinkle over more flour; this will make the skin more crisp and brown. While the turkey is cooking, boil the giblets well; chop them fine, and mash the liver. When the turkey is done, put it on a hot platter. Put the baking-pan on the fire, dredge in a little flour, and when cooked stir in a little boiling water or stock; strain it, skim off every particle of fat; add the giblets; season with salt and pepper. If chestnut stuffing is used, add some boiled chestnuts to the gravy; this is decidedly the best sauce for a turkey. Besides the gravy, always serve cranberry (see receipt, page 204), currant, or plum jelly with turkey. These are more attractive molded the day before they are served. The currant or plum jelly is melted and remolded in a pretty form. Roast turkeys are often garnished with little sausage-balls.